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Twists of Fate; a story of Tamriel

Started by Merari
Post #22860

Likes Given: 21
Likes Received: 142
Faction & Race:
Ebonheart Pact (Dunmer)
-Chapter one.

Due to some hilarious misunderstanding we found ourselves on the run from the Imperial guard.
Of course we escaped. I bargained, plead and cajoled with caravan masters to take us with them, Elena used her illusion to mask our identities and Bragor found paths through seemingly impenetrable wildernis when the roads had to be abandoned.
Those Imperial bloodhounds got close a few times though, no-one can say they arent well trained.
We managed to evade them and it only took us two weeks to cross most of Cyrodiil and Valenwood. Tired and flat broke, but safe, we had arrived on a small island east of Skywatch, west of the Elden Grove.
The joke was that we had not committed the crime we were accused of, as far as I could tell it was a mistaken identity. Not that crime, but in our haste we were forced to leave a considerable amount of stash behind, the loot of all the thefts we had gotten away with without anyone being the wiser.
Dim had been even more sullen and silent than usual, barely speaking above a grunt the entire mad dash. He always had such hatred against the misfortunes of fate.
He had secured our lodgings by ridding the innkeepers basement of rats. He emerged from below, grabbed a flagon of the reeking stuff they distill out of fermented meat juices and call drink around here and went upstairs to bed, without a word.

The three of us sat at a small table by the fire and reflected on our situation.
Bragor had found a dulcimer somewhere and played a melancholy theme. On any other man it would have looked ridiculous.
Elena sighed and drained her cup. 'I can cast a spell of prescience tomorrow, after Ive rested', she said. 'We can find an auspicious path in the runes. Or make that the day after. Ill be hung over tomorrow. My boots are ruined, just ruined. Its the mud, Im sure its acidic.'

"We dont often get travellers in Old Meadow, you know. Are you young people passing through? You must be -haha- but to where, hmm? Firsthold, yes, or maybe Skywatch."
At that point the ancient Altmer who had sidled up to us looked at me. His eyes were milky white.
"First time visiting the old isles young friend? Wanting a bit of that old heritage, hmm? But it looks like you had a rough trip, oh my yes. The wood elves have a savage land, you know. Much like themselves -haha- just my little joke, dont stop making such sweet tones my friend" -He turned to Bragor.
"I wouldnt live in Old Meadow if I really thought that now, hmm? Well, let me, as they say, come to business. Because it is more than curiosity why I am here, you know. To be honest, most young people on the island dont stay in the village -haha- why would they? Its mostly old people now. And we could really use some people of strength and skill to help our, hmm, little problem."

'Why dont you sit down and share a cup of this, ehm, jagga with us old man?' Said Elena.
'One mans problem can be anothers good fortune I think. Tell me, what rewards might we expect for aiding you?'

-Chapter two.

Us three and the old Altmer, who introduced himself as Achatta-Ra, talked a while longer that night. The mer sure loved to chatter.
In between the entire history of the island, the trouble with young people today and the decrepid allure of the 'big city' (by all accounts it had a church, two inns and a fair every other Sundas) we got the information we were after. A way to gather enough wealth to secure safe passage to Summurset, with some left over so we could afford to buy allowance and registration of travel to the estate of my uncle.
After that, who knew.
I was sure uncle would pull through. He was very fond of me before he left Lleyawin to fulfill his duties as the new heir, after that unfortunate incident with the atronachs, the thunderstorm and the dinner party had done away with most of the old lineage.
No doubt he could secure me and Elena some title only job on the estate that provided adequate income and living. Bragor could be our servant.
Dim.. Well, Dim could travel on to Skyrim or Solstheim.
Comfortably and free of care, I would make sure of that.

It turned out Achatta-Ra wanted us to raid the family tomb of his late Bosmer wife.
Bragor raised an eyebrow at that one, as I kept my face remarkably level, given my intake of drink. Elena laughed out loud.
'Bosmer.. burial tomb! That is almost as good as the one about the faithful Dunmer wife!'

"well, yes, young lady, true enough Im sure, hmm. But my dear wife's family has lived here a very long time. You know. When they were more influential they lived in Old Meadow as a summer retraite, with their main housings on the mainland, hmm. Im sure this place was a-bustle back then, much unlike now. And sometimes a feud does not go as desired and a -haha- tactical retreat is quite handy. Hmm, and when even the island is under threat of siege it would make sense to hide the valuable family heirlooms in a safe place such as, hmm, this extensively remodeled natural cave Im talking about."

The long and short of it was that the mer wanted us to make our way to the lower levels of this trapped vault to retrieve the last and most valuable pieces of a better past, so he could fund a better tomorrow. Or at least a more pleasant today.
He began with offering us a full ten percent of the price he would get upon sale in the big city but he was up against someone who had haggled the merchants in the Imperial city, who had discussed minutia of lore with temple priests, someone who knew the levers people freely provided in conversation, and knew how to apply pressure without snapping them.
I went to my bed statisfied with a ten percent for each of us, forty in total.
I barely sensed Elena joining me before I fell asleep.

-Chapter three

"I am Dimitry Sky-Rider of Winterhold! You will let me pass! Behold, this is my wrath and it guides my axe! Let me pass!"

'Dim, please, stop hacking at the walls. Youre only blunting your weapon.', said Elena putting her hand on his shoulder.
Dim shrugged and she was thrown backwards, stumbled. Bragor caught her before she fell.
"Let him for a bit honey. Its his berserker thing."

I sat by the makeshift fire and tried to repair our weapons and armour.
If I had something to make some arrowshafts from I could do better, but as it was there was still some gain in putting the whetstone to my dagger and patching up Bragor's leather with the ratskin we saved.

I think its eight days now.
It started easy enough. As Achatta-Ra had said there were some minor ghosts and wraiths guarding the clearing in the trees that held the entrance.
It was easy enough for Elena to put the fear of the Aedra in them and turn them away.
We set up our camp before the trapdoor, cunningly conceiled between the roots of a dead tree ancient and drank some of this rotten meat juice called drink around here, ate a meal of cold roast pig.
I dreamt of my childhood that night. The face of my father. My sister.

The next day we entered the dungeon. Dim seemed happy at having a goal.
'We kill the undead, get the goods, and get out. maybe keep a gem or two all to ourselves, how is the old geezer gonna know, hur-hur.'
"We shall see, hun" Elena said.
And the first level was easy. I talked a spriggan or two into finding another place to root, Dim delighted in tearing a few scamps apart. Bragor took care of the bonelord guarding a diamond bracelet. He never touched the floor while entering the room and shot the thing dead (or banished it at least) from the rafters in one shot.
The hardest part, we thought, was over when after clearing all the rooms of pests we found our progress halted.
Only to have Elena realise there was a door cleverly hidden in the masonry, a key hidden on a decorative frame.
Bragor clambered up, retrieved the key and we thought we just had to grab the treasure now and make our way back out.

The walls are made of carved marble in here, and they shift.
Im sure of it.
We were attacked by vaguely man-shaped things minutes after entering and brazen as we were we depleted most our potions and resources in that initial fight.
We would wound a thing, only to have it fall limp on the floor, making us think it was dead.
But then, when you did not look, it slithered away, we never saw, but we heard.
Dim said he was sure he had seen them before.

-Chapter four

You cant sleep here.
Oh, its possible to rest but the weariness doesnt go away.
I havent slept, I havent dreamt since that last time under the stars.
It has affected my fairly limited magical abilities (Mother was so dissapointed in me. She never was fooled by my silver tongue.) but Elena has suffered the worst.
She says she feels cut off from Aetherius. She also says she cant feel any divinity, Aedric or Daedric, but she often talks about omens, portents, airy stuff like that.
Ive always thought: 'Sure, there are gods. But the gods wont get me that sweetroll. I will. By making the merchant like me.'
To be honest I think she is a lot more clever and compassionate than I deserve and I have told her so.
She just smiles and says she loves me.
This place. There is no way out.

Bragor is dead.
We were circling eastward trying to find the hallway we made our way in through. I did not tell anyone I thought it was fruitless, but when I glanced at Elena I saw she shared my fears.
There were skeletons and rats. Bats and giant spiders, but Dim took care of them all with his axe.
Dim was barely choherent by now. Things he did say that seemed to make sense were adressed to his axe, we never knew he called it Freya before he promised it as much blood as she desired in exchange for the way out.
I knew better than to maybe direct a tender insanity into violence and Elena gave up trying to talk to him after he almost bit her.
We came across a tunnel that Bragor was sure we had not been to before.

"the chalk mark is fresh", he said "None of the slippage of the marks I made that have moved. It is the same as when I put it on. But the way, we havent been there before. I smell it. This one goes out, and not in like all the other ones"
(I have given up trying to find out how wood elves smell these things. For all I know they make marks like Khajiit though much less overt or I would have caught them.)
Elena managed to conjure a light ball and she let it drift across the stone.
'Its never this easy.' Bragor said. 'I shall go first and find any traps.'
He made it more than halfway through.
Tentacles, bleak and almost translucent in Elena's light streamed into the tunnel and enveloped Bragor. As quickly as they streamed over him they receded. Leaving nothing but one boot.

Dim started laughing.
Elena was on the verge of hysteria.
I used the red chalk to paint Bragors marker for 'trap' at the entrance and urged my party to move on.

-Chapter five

Its difficult to think when you cant get any sleep.
Dim has started chewing on pebbles and rocks, saying he will grind this place down by sheer force of spirit.
Elena cries a lot.
I keep thinking of that one summer in Bruma, if I had not been found out. Or had not done it.

Achatta-Ra appeared.
At first I thought only I could see him, smiling at me, beckoning.
But Dim sprang up and cleaved him in half.

Maybe I only dreamed it as he came back, and people split in half rarely do.
The other two were asleep and I did not want to leave them, he assured me we would come back. We just needed to get safe now ourselves, hmm?
Gotten lost as young people often do, you know, brazen. Hmm, a good thing an old mer knows more -haha-.
It was hypnotic. As soon as I thought that thought I realised we had passed a number of yellow and red chalk signs already.
We werent moving out, we were moving deeper into the heart of the shifting maze and, Elena!

I turned round and sprinted back towards where I came. At a crossroads I darted around a corner. Halted. I turned and peeked back. I did not see Achatta-Ra.
But I think I saw a tentacle receding into the darkness.

It took me two days to find Elena again. At least, I think its two days. Ive slept twice, if you can call this sleep. It does not quicken, there is no respite.
I followed the smell.
She made a fire out of the bones of vermin and undead and I think the acrid smoke keeps evil at bay. Or she thinks that. Or hopes.
I found Dimitry. He is dead.
Elena so far has only used his leg to keep the fire going.
The tentacle parts he is surrounded with kill a fire rather than fuel it.
Maybe it is the shadows, maybe I am going crazy. A lot of the tentacle ends, the ways the suckers are positioned, the little mouth slots.
They look a lot like Achatta-Ra.

I fell asleep holding Elena tightly as we have done for the past months? years?
We eat rats and drink rat juice and a good day is when we find one of those big centipedes because when you roast them the legs taste sort of not unlike pig crackling.
When I woke up she was gone.

I dont know how long it has been. My species lives for a very long time and I found out I dont really need food or water in here. I just.. go on.
Centuries maybe. Or maybe days. There is no time here.
My eyes have adapted to the light. Sort of. I see movement and know when to keep still.
I lost my dagger a long time ago.

-Chapter six

I am so tired now.
It is hard to think.
The old Altmer is back. He is telling me that its is not that bad that there is no way out, because there is still a way in.
All paths lead to the centre, as Bragor said.

Maybe I will follow the old mer for a while. It is nice to have some company here and he does talk a lot.
If I look just right I can pretend I can see that his body is normal, just like mine.
Its not really the tip of a tentacle resembling an amiable old man at all.
I close my eyes and am reminded of my sister, who I havent seen in fifty years, havent thought of in a decade, in forever.
When we were young we used to play with simple dolls she made by covering her hand in an old sock that she had sewn buttons on for eyes. The buttons were mother-of-pearl.
The eyes of the my chattering guide are milky white.

Elena, when I get to the spider in the web, do you think it will let me sleep?
This post was last modified: January 9th 2013, 05:25 PM by Merari

Tam! RUGH!
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